Internet, Networking, & Security Home Networking 352 352 people found this article helpful What Is a Service Set Identifier (SSID)? All wireless networks have their own network name by Bradley Mitchell Writer An MIT graduate who brings years of technical experience to articles on SEO, computers, and wireless networking. our editorial process LinkedIn Bradley Mitchell Updated on April 17, 2020 reviewed by Michael Barton Heine Jr Lifewire Tech Review Board Member Michael Heine is a CompTIA-certified writer, editor, and Network Engineer with 25+ years' experience working in the television, defense, ISP, telecommunications, and education industries. our review board Article reviewed on Jul 16, 2020 Michael Barton Heine Jr The Wireless Connection The Wireless Connection Introduction All About Wireless What Does Wireless Really Mean? 802.11 Standards Explained The Range Of A Wireless Network Dual-Band Wireless Networking Explained How Bluetooth Works With Wireless Measure It: Wi-Fi Signal Strength What Is A Wi-Fi Hotspot? 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How To Connect At Home How to Name Your Wireless Network How to Change Your Wireless Router's Admin Password Change the Wi-Fi Channel Number to Avoid Interference Build a Wireless Home Network Use Wireless Speakers In Home Theater Connect Your Echo & Alexa To Wi-Fi Connect Google Home to Wi-Fi Wirelessly Connect An iPad To Your TV Use a Free Firewall Program How To Connect On The Go How to Find Free Wi-Fi Locations Get 4G or 3G on Your Laptop Connect To Wi-Fi in Your Car Get Wireless Internet Access in a Hotel Use Your Android As A Wi-Fi Hotspot Set Up Personal Hotspot On Your iPhone Connect Nintendo Switch To Bluetooth Headphones Connect To A Wireless Network With Windows Access Your Computer Remotely How to Troubleshoot Wireless Issues 7 Reasons Wi-Fi Connections Drop Disable Automatic Wireless Connections on Windows How to Hack-proof Your Wireless Router How to Fix OS X Bluetooth Wireless Problems What to Do When Google Home Won't Connect To Wi-Fi How to Hide Your Wireless Network Can't Connect To The Internet? Try This What to Do When There's No Internet Connection The Future of Wireless 5G Changes Everything How 4G And 5G Are Different Why 5G Really Is Faster All About 5G Cell Towers 5G Challenges: Why It Isn't Rolling Out Faster Is 5G The High-Speed Replacement for Cable? When 5G Is Coming to the US The 12 Best 5G Phones Coming in 2019 Tweet Share Email An SSID (service set identifier) is the primary name associated with an 802.11 wireless local area network (WLAN), including home networks and public hotspots. Client devices use this name to identify and join wireless networks. In simple terms, it's the name of your Wi-Fi network. What an SSID Looks Like The SSID is a case-sensitive text string that is as long as 32 characters consisting of letters and numbers. Within those rules, the SSID can say anything. When you connect to a wireless network, you see your network and others within your range that are called something different. All of the names you see are the SSIDs for those networks. Router manufacturers set a default SSID for the Wi-Fi unit, such as Linksys, xfinitywifi, NETGEAR, dlink, or default. However, since the SSID can be changed, not all wireless networks have a standard name. On home Wi-Fi networks, a broadband router or broadband modem stores the SSID, but administrators can change it. Routers broadcast this name to help wireless clients find the network. How Devices Use SSIDs Wireless devices like phones and laptops scan the local area for networks that broadcast their SSIDs and present a list of names. A user can initiate a new network connection by picking a name from the list. In addition to obtaining the network name, a Wi-Fi scan also determines whether each network has wireless security options enabled. In most cases, the device identifies a secured network with a lock symbol next to the SSID. Most wireless devices keep track of the networks a user joins as well as the connection preferences. In particular, users can set up a device to automatically join networks having certain SSIDs by saving that setting in their profiles. In other words, once connected, the device usually asks if you want to save the network or reconnect automatically in the future. Also, you can set up the connection manually without having access to the network (you can connect to the network from afar so that when in range, the device knows how to log in). Most wireless routers offer the option to disable SSID broadcasting as a means to improve Wi-Fi network security since it requires the clients to know two passwords: the SSID and the network password. However, the effectiveness of this technique is limited since it's easy to sniff out the SSID from the header of data packets flowing through the router. Connecting to networks with SSID broadcast disabled requires the user to manually create a profile with the name and other connection parameters. Issues With SSIDs Consider these ramifications of how wireless network names work: If a network does not have wireless security options enabled, anyone can connect to it by knowing only the SSID.Using a default SSID increases the likelihood that another nearby network will have the same name, confusing wireless clients. When a Wi-Fi device discovers two networks with the same name, it may auto-connect to the one that has a stronger radio signal, which might be the unwanted choice. In the worst case, a person might get dropped from their home network and reconnected to a neighbor's network that doesn't have login protection enabled.The SSID chosen for a home network should contain only generic information. Some names (like HackMeIfYouCan) unnecessarily entice thieves to target certain homes and networks over others.An SSID can contain publicly-visible offensive language or coded messages.